Battle For Aleppo: Syrian rebels break the siege

Battle For Aleppo: Syrian rebels break the siege

Syrian rebels have announced that rebels have broken Assad regime’s siege on the rebel-held parts of Aleppo after the last port was closed last month trapping 300.000 civilians.

The Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition said on Twitter on Saturday: “Rebels break Aleppo’s siege”.

The Ahrar al-Sham rebel group also posted on Twitter that rebels had seized control of Ramousa on the southwestern edges of the city and thereby “opened the route to Aleppo”.

Zouhir al-Shimale, a journalist in Aleppo, told Al Jazeera that the siege has “practically been broken”.

A coalition of armed anti-government groups, the Army of Conquest, announced on Friday it had taken control of a strategic military base in Ramousa.

The rebels then used the base to launch raids on the government-held area, according to al-Shimale.

At around 12pm local time on Saturday, a car bomb exploded in al-Amiriya, at the edge of the besieged part of the city, he said.

Al-Shimale said the area between Ramousa and al-Amiriya is now all under the control of the rebels.

“There are heavy clashes and random shelling from helicopters and warplanes,” he added.

Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, previously al-Nusra Front, said on Saturday that rebels pushing out from inside Aleppo city had linked up with those on the outskirts, according to AFP news agency.

Riad Hijab, head of the broad opposition body the High Negotiations Committee, tweeted: “The liberation of Ramousa and the breaking of the siege are a good omen for Syria’s revolution.”

An AFP journalist in eastern Aleppo city said residents were on the streets and shooting celebratory gunfire into the air.

“Days ago, I was only thinking about how to get a bite to eat,” said Ahmad Adna, a 46-year-old resident of eastern Aleppo.

“Now I’m more optimistic after the (rebel) Army of Conquest’s advance. I hope today will be the last day of the siege.”

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said rebels “broke the siege, but the route is not fully secure yet” between the city and its outskirts.

“This is an existential battle. Whoever wins it will win Aleppo,” he said.

The monitor said more than 700 rebels and government fighters had been killed in since the offensive began on Sunday, including 200 on Saturday alone.

The breakthrough in Aleppo will be a boost for the rebels, who have been fighting for weeks to retake control of the city despite heavy bombardment by Russian and Syrian forces.